Thursday, November 19, 2015

UIS program shows challenge of providing nutritious, affordable school lunch

University of Illinois Springfield junior Jessica Fager of Sherman had $2 in simulated money Wednesday to buy five items that someone might find in a public school cafeteria.

She skipped the meat items altogether but still found that her $2 didn't go very far.

"I only have 30 cents left," Fager said. "There wasn't much left even if I did eat meat."

Fager was one of about 150 students who attended a special program called Lunch Hour. The evening event was designed to highlight the difficulties school districts have when trying to buy food that is both affordable and nutritious.

Mark Dochterman, director of the Volunteer and Civic Engagement Center at UIS, said school districts across the country spend between $2 and $2.15 on one lunch for one child.

"Think about that. Even buying in mass, it's difficult to make a lunch for $2," Dochterman said. "It's even more difficult to make it a healthy lunch. A lot of schools are stuck making decisions between an inexpensive protein or something like a nice slice of turkey that would be nice and healthy."

The story was reported by The State Journal-Register on November 19, 2015.

Read the story online.